Last week noted British director Mike Leigh came to town to preview his new film Mr. Turner with a Q&A at the IFI. The next day he and star of the film Marion Bailey took questions from Irish print and web outlets, so we sent our Philip along to chat to these two cinematic icons.
Mr. Turner fulfils Leigh’s long held ambition to make a film about British painter J.M. W. Turner. Focusing on the 25 years before his death, Mr. Turner depicts a character who in Leigh’s words was “a giant among artists, single-minded and uncompromising, extraordinarily prolific, revolutionary in his approach, consummate at his craft, clairvoyant in his vision”, but also “eccentric, anarchic, vulnerable, imperfect, erratic and sometimes uncouth. He could be selfish and disingenuous, mean yet generous, and he was capable of great passion and poetry”
These complexities are embodied in an incredible, physical performance from Timothy Spall, who veers from pontificating about art in high society to issuing guttural grunts, from claiming the moral high ground to visiting a brothel or sexually exploiting his housekeeper. Spall won the Best Actor award for Mr. Turner at the 2014 Cannes Film Festival. More than a standard period biopic, Mr. Turner is an enigmatic marvel from a masterful filmmaker.
Mr. Turner is out in Ireland on Friday, October 31st. Check out Scannain’s verdict on the film here.